Handling Difficult Decisions in Professional Responses to DV in Germany – from Empowerment As Guiding Principle to “Entrance Card” Child Protection?

Monday, 11 July 2016: 11:05
Location: Hörsaal BIG 2 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Bianca GRAFE, University of Osnabrück, Germany
The paper will present and discuss initial research findings on intervention in domestic violence in Germany within the project Cultural Encounters in Intervention Against Violence (CEINAV). Using the implicit cultural premises of intervention it aims to discuss ethical issues and dilemmas practitioners experience when facing difficult decisions in intervention with a view to advocacy for and empowerment of women.

Based on the research questions of the overall project, the five partners worked out a common methodology for all 24 workshops. The main impulse were a fictional “case story” for each form of violence, adapted as needed to fit the institutions of the country, and a set of “core questions” to guide discussions.

The paper is based on two workshops with practitioners (focus group methodology) in intervention against domestic violence. Using a fictional case story. The workshop discussions were transcribed and frame analysis was used to identify implicit and explicit discursive constructions of intervention and normative representations.

Advocacy is a guiding principle of the women’s support services in Germany and explains violence against women as due to unequal gender power relations. This implies that the solution is to strengthen women by supporting self-determination and empowerment, helping women to discover their own resources, while respecting their will. The exception is notification of an NGO in case of a police ban which thus can be used as a door opener. However, many professionals expressed the difficulties and not being able to act. Domestic violence cases often involve children, which on the one hand some professionals saw as their “entrance card” via child protection if there was a possible endangerment of a child. On the other hand taking this “entrance card” can lead to action against the will of the woman which interferes with the principles of self-determination and professional secrecy.